Drug use prevention in the Netherlands is embedded in a broader perspective of a national prevention programme for 2014-16. In the programme, priority is given to highrisk groups and young people; activities in recreational settings, especially those tackling the use of illicit and licit substances, predominate. A new development in the area of prevention is a focus on counteracting the normalisation of recreational drug use in nightlife settings. Prevention activities are coordinated and funded mainly by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. However, local municipalities are responsible for carrying out the prevention interventions and policies in close cooperation with schools, municipal care services, neighbourhood centres, other organisations involved in substance use prevention and national health promoting institutes.
Prevention interventions encompass a wide range of approaches, which are complementary. Environmental and universal strategies target entire populations, selective prevention targets vulnerable groups that may be at greater risk of developing drug use problems and indicated prevention focuses on at-risk individuals.
In the Netherlands, environmental prevention activities are mainly concerned with regulating and controlling the availability of alcohol and tobacco, with municipalities having an important role in defining regulations.
Universal prevention is carried out in secondary schools through the Healthy School and Drugs programme. Following an evaluation in 2014, the programme was revised to increase the skill-focused components and to provide more intensive interventions on social norms, selfregulation and impulse control, and professional training for educational staff. A Swedish programme, Preventing Heavy Alcohol Use in Adolescents (the Örebro programme), has been effectively implemented in the Netherlands under the name PAS.
Outside school settings, the project Alcohol and Drug Prevention at Clubs and Pubs aims to create a healthy and safe nightlife environment using a healthy settings approach. The focus is on reducing the high-risk use of substances among young people and its related problems. Electronic media and new applications are increasingly used to provide information and counselling on drugrelated issues, for example the Drugs Information Line.
In recent years, more attention has been given to a shift towards selective prevention interventions, although their availability largely depends on the local policies.
These interventions, carried out by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in cooperation with government services, are mostly targeted at the children of parents with drug use problems, young people with a slight intellectual disability and young people on the streets, from socio-economically deprived neighbourhoods or in special institutional settings (such as child residential care or custodial institutions), and in recreational settings. The projects in recreational settings focus on the implementation of safe clubbing regulations, person-toperson interventions and the testing of substances (often ‘club’ drugs) at addiction care organisations. They are linked to other nationwide monitoring systems and are particularly important for the rapid sharing of information about new or dangerous psychoactive substances and their hazardous health effects in recreational settings, and for issuing local warnings. These initiatives have recently been complemented with additional interactive tools and mobile applications. An increasing role in selective prevention interventions is played by social neighbourhood teams, developed as part of an ongoing reorganisation of general healthcare. New programmes addressing GHB use and substance use among transgender people have been launched.
In the indicated prevention area, activities focusing on early identification of substance use or dependence are on the increase and some activities target young people arrested under the influence of substances. Several online programmes to prevent and decrease high-risk drug use by means of motivational interviewing techniques have been launched in the Netherlands.
Provision of interventions in schools in the Netherlands (expert ratings)
NBYear of data 2015.